Let’s get serious here for just a moment. This is the United States. It is not the French Republic. We are not inclined to be swept off our feet by a Man On A Horse and we ought not to be looking for one. We are not selecting the Homecoming King and the Sweetheart of Delta Chi. We are looking to select the person who will head the executive branch of the national government and be the originator of federal policy. Never in our history have we had a man going for that office for the first time for whom there was anything approaching universal enthusiasm, with the exception of George Washington and US Grant, both of whom were as close to being a Man On A Horse as we have ever come.
A non-encumbant cantidate for the Presidency is always an unknown to one extent or another, simply because having no track record as president it is difficult to know just how well he will handle the job and how he will handle challenges that neither he nor the electorate can predict. Who, for instance, would have predicted during the 2000 presidential campaign that the great challenge of George Bush’s administration would be dealing with aircraft crashed into public buildings. Who would have predicted during the 2000 campaign that the candidate who decried “nation building” would within 18 months of taking office would be engaged in a shooting war in the Middle East and major nation building efforts in that volatile area? Who would have predicted that as President George Bush would actively seek war with Iraq? The issues of the 2000 campaign had precious little to do with the things the candidates talked about in the campaign.
What we need is not a Homecoming King. What we need is a critical thinker who understands how the country works, how the world works, what the traditions are that make this country what it is and aspires to be. We need a President who can draw critical distinctions and articulate them to the public.
It is not enough to say that one candidate or another is not exciting. It is not enough to say that one candidate or another’s response to future circumstances is unknown. It is enough, however, to say that on one hand we have a candidate whose response to past crises is a wrong and self defeating and on the other hand an inexperienced candidate who is a critical thinker with national legislative and international political experience and who can make critical distinctions. In that situation the choice between the devil you know and the devil you don’t know seems to me to be pretty obvious. Some times you fire an incompetent employee without knowing that the replacement will be any better just because you are not prepared to put up with the incompetent any longer. You do not continue to pursue bad policy because it is established policy once it is shown to be bad.
Do I expect to become the Queen of May if Senator Kerry is elected? Of course not. But I do expect to be rid of an Administration that, in my judgment, has pursued bad policy in favor of an Administration that is much more likely to avoid the mistakes of the present Administration and to do a much more rational job of dealing with the challenges of the unknown future.